Expect the unexpected – South Platte Sentinel
It’s a good thing we don’t have crystal balls. They would come to define our health, our mental prowess, and our schedule in unhealthy ways. We would become fear-ridden calendar watchers, unable to avert impending calamity while blaming others for our sad lot in life. How lucky we are, then, to rest innocently in the tension of knowing and not-knowing. We are creatures in search of balance, a difficult search in a complicated and busy world.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t anticipate the future. Hopes, dreams and aspirations are constructed and driven by expectations. Passion becomes the primary fuel to ignite that fire and dispel complacency. Churches are particularly motivated because of their commitments to theological ideals and standards. This commitment, by its very nature, is filled with passion and verve, and “getting it right” is of the utmost importance. In this regard, how can one blame a particular denomination or congregation for its shortcomings when in truth it is doing what it feels it has been called to do? A cautionary reverse is sometimes indicated as a reminder of a core organizational value; religion by coercion is no religion at all.
So what can we expect from religion? The declining interest and participation of our younger generations reflects a mature faith in evolution. Although I am aware of the many clergy who have populated my own heritage over the past three hundred years, I am under no illusions that I would be able to get along with my ancestors, theologically or otherwise. I can appreciate, however, their unwavering commitments and recognition of something bigger than themselves. I have been the fortunate beneficiary of their well-placed faith and hope, and I am grateful to them.
Brian McLaren in “Am I Remaining a Christian?” addresses the ancestor angle by saying, “We honor the efforts of our ancestors by building on them, which often means going beyond them. They exemplified creative thinking in their context. We honor and follow their example, not by endlessly repeating their words and formulations, but by thinking and speaking as creatively in our context as they did in theirs… We respectively study and yet so critiques the work of our ancestors in context in the hope that their successes and failures can guide us in our own creative endeavours. This means that we are not only free to adapt and experiment in theology, as we are in other areas; we also have a moral obligation to do so…especially in light of the [past harms of the church].
Historical records tell us what we can expect in the future, but we shouldn’t be too surprised when the unexpected turns up instead. A recent example was the discovery of a small but healthy barrel cactus that had somehow escaped destruction by horses in the corral. Unpredictable but welcome were her magenta flowers, each an instant gift or offering. The unexpected helped us slow down and think for a moment or two before moving on. It was a moment of calm and grace on an otherwise dusty and windy day. Unexpected? Not if we’re looking for it to begin with.